What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Carjacking is a major risk; do not underestimate the degree of violent crime, especially with regard to cars. All kinds of cars are here and 4x4 may be occasionally useful for a game drive but is not essential. - Jan 2020

There is a large automotive manufacturing industry here including BMW and Ford. Common makes are: Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Volvo, Ford, Toyota, and Subaru. Small SUVS have enough clearance for safaris (dirt roads and game viewing), visiting the region, and potholes. The highways are good and people will drive 140km. It's good to have a car with some quick acceleration to get through traffic or away from uncomfortable encounters. Parts are generally common and easy to find from the major brands. Parts are slightly more expensive than the US. Note: oil changes seem to only be available from car dealers. They run R2000 to R3500 ($140 to $250) and can include tire rotation, a thorough inspection, and washing. Motor oil is expensive--roughly $100 for 4 liters (4.2 quarts)... Smaller cars for commuting are better and some houses have very small garages that will not fit a large SUV. There are great road networks throughout southern Africa making it possible to drive to Namibia, Zambia, and Mozambique. For the longer trips, it's nice to have a reliable vehicle with 4x4. - Dec 2019

We bought two used cars on the local economy. Toyotas and VWs are everywhere, and can be repaired easily. US imports (like Ford) are substantially more expensive to repair. In general, cars here cost about 50% more than in the US (both used and new). Driving is on the left side and it is uncommon import a vehicle from the US. A 2WD is fine for regular city / highway driving, or for getting to the safari lodges. There is a big culture of 4WD off-roading here, and a 4WD could be used for self-drive safaris. Driving at night is extremely unsafe, both because of road hazards and crime. Don’t get stranded or you are likely to be held up. - Mar 2019

Any car but you need to have "smash and grab" film installed. It seems like there are beggars at every stop light. There are constantly serious accidents. I have driven all over the world and to me, it is the most stressful place I have ever driven. - Jun 2018

You can't bring a car to post if it's not UK-style, right hand drive. Buy something here. There are many options in the diplomatic community. - Jan 2018

You can only import RHD (right hand drive) vehicles. As for what vehicle to purchase once here - there is no need to have a SUV, the roads are fine for all vehicles. An SUV would be of use for those individuals who are tall because many of the vehicles sold here are not as roomy as in the States. - Oct 2014

You can't import a vehicle from the US because South Africa is right-hand-drive. Vehicles are very expensive here, both new and used. But it is what it is. Resale value is high and car values don't depreciate much here so you can sell it for close to what you paid for it if you service it regularly. - Jun 2012

Right-hand only nowadays. A small sedan is sufficient for most things. If you really want to go off-road in your own vehicle, Toyota Landcruisers seem to be the best. - Dec 2009

We have a little car for zipping around the city and a larger SUV for those weekend get-aways. Roads here are fantastic and you really don't need an SUV unless you like off-road travel; even so, you could always rent an SUV for that special get-away. This is a great country for road trips, so get something that is comfortable and reliable. - Aug 2009

Driving is on the left so importing a left hand drive vehicle is not advisable and can be dangerous. Plus, now you must ship out any imported left hand drive vehicles on leaving. Buying a car here is expensive but there is no way around it. A 4x4 is not essential but it might make your life easier if you want to do self-drive safari or explore the more rugged areas of South Africa. There are major car dealers (Toyota, BMW, Volvo, Land Rover, etc.) and repair shops in Pretoria. - Feb 2009

No need for SUV unless you plan to camp. Even Kruger Park has an extensive paved road network. - Oct 2008

It is not possible to bring a left-hand drive car to SA. Unless you already have a right hand drive car, you'll have to buy one here. - Sep 2008

A left hand drive (US type) vehicle cannot be imported. Best to buy local. Cars are expensive. An SUV/4WD is not necessarily needed. - Jun 2008

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